For many mothers, the home is the “work place”. You could say my work office is divided between the kitchen and laundry room. For most of the day, I’m busy keeping the house in working order and the younger children healthy, safe and loved. I grocery shop, do laundry, fix meals, read a few picture books, tidy the house and clean up several spills. If I’m lucky, I get a break from my house “work” during nap time to focus on some personal work.
When the older children come home from school, I’m back on task. There is a list of things to be finished before dinner and another list waiting for after dinner. It is my “job” as mom to make sure homework is finished, books are read, chores are completed, healthy snacks are eaten and behavior is respectful. I make dinner and help the children clean it up. I get children off to sports, lessons and other activities. It is a lot of work and it’s not always fun.
It can be a challenge to give equal focus to the “job” of being a mother and having fun being a mother. The balance is particularly challenging when work and fun occupy the same office space. I can easily allow my mind to be focused on all the “work” aspects of motherhood and never stop long enough to find the fun. The trick for me is to make that mental shift from work to fun while remaining in the workplace of the home.
One thing that has helped me make this shift is simply recognizing the need to make a deliberate mental change. Consciously opening my eyes to the fun around me allows me to laugh at the joke my son tells me while I’m fixing dinner instead of a silent acknowledgment and nod of my head. I enjoy being a mom more when I make the effort to smile and laugh and notice the fun around me instead of focusing on the mundane-ness of my daily tasks.
Another thing that helps me find the fun in motherhood is to slow down. I’m usually in such a rush to get things finished that I miss out on the fun in the actual activity. Putting away clean laundry is a chore for me. I do it as quickly and as efficiently as possible. But, my three-year-old daughter does it differently. It is fun for her. She looks at each shirt and tells me why she loves it. Then, she takes her time putting it on the hanger. It takes a lot longer to do it this way, but for her, it’s fun. Instead of rushing through activities and chores, especially when my children are involved, I try to take time to enjoy them together. This allows me to appreciate their individual personalities and their progress and development without the pressure of time.
I’ve also found that adjusting my expectations helps me relax and enjoy my time as a mother. I’m one of those mothers who places upon myself the expectation of perfection. It gets me in trouble every time. All it takes is a misbehaved child, a flopped dinner or an over-scheduled day and I feel like I’ve failed. This is definitely not fun. When I adjust my expectations from perfection and super-human to realistic and doable, I’m a happier person and a more pleasant mother.
The home is my workplace and I’m focused and dedicated to doing a good job at maintaining it. However, my priority is my children and the emotional atmosphere of the home. Being the mom becomes fun when I decide to make that my priority, when I slow down, and when keep my expectations realistic.
QUESTION: What are some things you notice that keep you from having fun in motherhood?
CHALLENGE: Make the conscious effort to look for fun in your daily interactions with your children. Slow down and enjoy the experience.
Images from Flickr.com/Decorology & More Good Foundation.